A PROPOSAL by the British government to remove the name of Jamaica's Mary Seacole from the national curriculum has been met with outrage.
A Facebook campaign has been started and a petition, led by Operation Black Vote (OBV), is being signed to pressure Britain's education secretary Michael Gove from going ahead with his plans.
"We are opposed to this and wish to see Mary Seacole retained so that current and future generations can appreciate this important historical person," said OBV in a statement on change.org.
The statement - which has been endorsed by Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, UNISON member Khi Rafe, Hackney councillor Patrick Vernon, of Every Generation Media and Sutton councillor Lester Holloway - argues Seacole's role in the Crimean War justifies her status as a Victorian figure and should be taught in schools today.
Mary Seacole, best known for assisting sick and injured servicemen, was a national heroine on her return to Britain and a crowd of 80,000 attended a four-day fundraising benefit in her honour in 1857.
Her inclusion on the national curriculum came as a result of a tireless campaigning to recognise someone who had become a forgotten figure in modern times.
The proposed removal can only be attributed to a recent backlash against Mary Seacole as a symbol of 'political correctness' by right-wing media and commentators, OBV said.
To remove Mary Seacole from the national curriculum is tantamount to rewriting history to fit a world view hostile to Britain's historical diversity, are the arguments coming from the organisation.
They cautioned that overall the teaching of black historical figures is widely recognised to be beneficial to the success of black pupils and in closing the GCSE achievement gap.
Mary Seacole, a Jamaican/Scottish figure, is a positive role model and well-respected in NHS circles.
Sir W H Russell, Crimean War correspondent for The Times, said of Seacole: "Let England not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead."
Mary Seacole is the only black figure to feature in the national curriculum not connected to civil rights or enslavement and was voted by the public as one of the Great Black Britons (100greatblackbritons.com).